When people think of the Dominican Republic, they often think of white beaches lined with palm trees, resorts and vacations. But there is also a working-class side to this Caribbean nation and much of its workforce is comprised of Haitians.
The island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean is divided into two sovereign countries, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The latter has a history of extreme poverty, lack of infrastructure and development combined with a recent tragic chapter that an earthquake that destroyed the little progress it had achieved. For decades, Haitians have been illegally crossing the border into the more stable Dominican Republic in search of work and basic survival. Today, it is home to half a million Haitians. But it may not be their home for long.
Recently, the government decided to put a stop to the illegal migration. It has implemented a plan to legalize some of the undocumented Haitians and push others back to their home nation. But some critics call the plan unfair and discriminatory.
Correspondent Nitza Soledad Perez went to the Dominican Republic’s capital of Santo Domingo to find out more about the story. She visited the neighborhood called Little Haiti and spoke to undocumented residents facing deportation. One of them is a beauty consultant named Marlene. Single with four children, Nitza shows us a day in Marlene’s life and what she is up against trying to stay in the Dominican Republic.
If Marlene has to return to Haiti, her four children must go with her. The children have a better shot at getting some formal education in the Dominican Republic, but without Marlene there is no one else who can take care of them. Her oldest daughter is too young to take care of the other three. As of July 2, 2015, government figures show that there are 31,275 undocumented Haitians living in the Dominican Republic.